Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines

D. L. Snell, Permuted Press, 2007

The zombie apocalypse has arrived, humankind has been devoured, and the scattered survivors eke out a meager existence amidst city ruins. But now the vampires have emerged from the shadows, seeking prey, and the remnants of humanity are further reduced to the level of cattle - lobotomized amputees bred solely for food…

To describe Roses of Blood as ‘disturbing’ seriously underplays the sheer brutality of this tale. From the very first page, the circumstances of the protagonists – both human and vampire – are depicted as utterly pointless and hopeless, not to mention violent and gory. Add to the mix a high level of erotic content and the author’s complete disregard for the well-being of any given character, and you’re guaranteed a highly unsettling read from beginning to end.

Snell has introduced some wonderfully fresh elements to the familiar backdrop of the zombie apocalypse, such as the vampires, and the origin of the undead (reanimated by lab-born parasites every bit as lethal as their hosts), all of which directly drive the narrative rather than simply providing set-dressing. The quality of Snell’s writing is also extremely high: this is horror written as high literature, with beautifully rich and flowing prose pulling the reader deep into the story. Having said that, the author’s fondness for similes as a substitute for functional description did start to wear after a while, but this was a minor quibble when compared to the novels’ many strengths.

If you’re fond of zombie fiction (or just horror fiction in general) this is certainly a novel worth reading, and one of the strongest small-press offerings I’ve read in quite some time. I’ll greatly look forward to future offerings from both Snell and Permuted Press.

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